2017: Revisiting Sebastian Vettel’s bizarre collision with Lewis Hamilton in Baku

The time when Sebastian Vettel took the angry turn on Hamilton

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton moments before colliding
Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton moments before colliding

The 2017 season of F1 saw Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton get into an amazing title fight. At that point of time, Vettel was in Ferrari, and Hamilton was still in Mercedes. Both the German and Briton shared a healthy rivalry, but even the best ones get affected in F1, and so did they at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. After retirements from Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen in early stages of the race, a safety car had to be deployed, and at the same time, both Vettel and Hamilton pitted for new tyres. At the 19th lap, as the safety car was about to go back, out of the corner Vettel got into the back of Hamilton which broke his front wing. 

Sebastian Vettel felt that Hamilton had brake-tested him, and to make matters worse, Vettel aggressively bumped into the Mercedes to pour his rage.

There were a lot of questions going up and down the pit lane between Ferrari, Mercedes, and the stewards. Hamilton had pole in the race, and Vettel had started 4th, but early contacts between Kimi and Bottas saw Sebastian Vettel getting just behind the Briton. 

If Hamilton had actually brake-tested the German, then he would have been penalized, but there were other chances as well, and unfortunately for Seb, as the data spoke, Hamilton had in fact not brake-tested him, and Seb was given a 10-second stop and go penalty. Luckily though, at the same time Hamilton had to come into the pits as well to adjust the neck support in his car, which saw Sebastian Vettel go ahead of Hamilton even after serving the penalty. 

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Sebastian Vettel realized his mistake and apologized to Hamilton. 

Sebastian Vettel aggresive on radio after going into the back of Hamilton
Sebastian Vettel aggresive on radio after going into the back of Hamilton

After the investigation, Sebastian Vettel was still adamant about the fact that Hamilton had brake-tested him, but later, he stated that he had realized his mistake and apologized to the Briton for his mistake. “The FIA investigation, which took place during the course of the race, threw up no suggestion that Hamilton had braked nor lifted off entirely,” was a statement from Motorsport’s 2017 article, covering the same story.

Vettel had apologized to him in a later press conference, and Lewis Hamilton had accepted his apology. Interestingly enough, Lewis Hamilton went through something similar during the Saudi Arabian GP of 2021 when Max Verstappen slowed down to let him pass and he crashed into him, stating that he “brake-tested” him. 

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